Communicating Difficult and Complex Science

"True descendants of Prometheus, science writers take the fire from the scientific Olympus, the laboratories and the universities, and bring it down to the people."

William Laurence, science writer for The New York Times, in the 1930s.

The British Science Association recently held a Science Communication Primer event in Manchester. Present were researchers, research students, PR professionals and charity workers from across the country all grappling with the challenges of communicating difficult and complex science to multiple audiences.

How we communicate science is important as it has the power to change behaviours and attitudes and to add to the cultural and intellectual capital of our societies. Science communication is not simply about broadcasting facts but about presenting information in a broader context and initiating dialogue with audiences. The tone of voice used to communicate science is important as it has the power to distance or befriend the listener/reader.

Whilst the SYMETA project is at an early stage we are keen to communicate what we are doing but need to decide what we want to to say. Our immediate focus is on identifying who we want to talk to, what existing conversations we might join and what the best mediums are for talking about our research from academic publications through to museum exhibits and collaborative arts projects. We want to start conversations about the amazing potential of our research and spark the interest and imagination of our audiences.

As Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Advisor said in his 2013 address to the Royal Society "Science is not completed until it is communicated".


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